As a lynchpin of the British Poetry Scene, I am terribly careful to keep a close eye on my health. I have already mentioned the Tai-Chi classes I take – the ‘Drinking Crane’ exercise is particularly supportive of the writing muscles – I add to this regimen the wide variety of herbal teas, smoothies, balms and restoratives formulated by my Man, some of which go to lifting my mien, some quench the thirst of the aspidistra by the umbrella stand, with only one formulation being in my humble opinion too experimental for carbon-based lifeforms but which benefitted the old two-seater’s triple Strombergs no end.
Whether this diet of exercise, distressed vegetation and pallid ditch water does me any good is another question. On the bright side, our outdoor Tai-Chi classes are highly popular and attract many shouts of encouragement, mainly from passing white van-equipped tradesmen, I am bemused to say, while my high-fibre diet does at least give me an excuse to lock myself away in the smallest room with a notepad for extended periods while I wait for inspiration.
Inspiration was in no short supply at tonight’s meeting. Gerry Goddin kicked things off with a deep and soulful ballad on the charm of words. Alan Chambers watched a couple find each other at Bollawall Barrow. John Hurley feels he is enjoying a late spin on life’s bicycle. Daphne Gloag is looking forward to the transformative effects of snow. Helen Baker is taking advice on her own vintage. Louise Nicholas ended this year’s sojourn with PP by describing the coat she will wear into old age. Ann Furneaux brought a vivid, account of a day in Wensleydale. Nick Barth wonders what is wrong with Duchamp’s Rotary Demisphere. Owen Gallagher is imagining the moment of his own mortality and is somewhat misty-eyed. Finally Martin Choules has met a person who just loves spiders.
The poetry world is full of larger-than-lunch characters who have made a career of pushing the boat out at both ends, les Grande Fromages who keep their dieticians on danger money, but there are some who plough a different tack. The Australian Poet, Novelist and vegan John Kinsella is mentioned in the annals of the Pitshanger Poets. Kinsella was apparently invited to join a Tuesday Workshop in a garbled telephone call from the famous Australian wit, cultural icon and bon veneer, Sir Les Patterson. The young Kinsella managed to gather the price of the fare and ‘bummed’ a couple of nights on the floor of a pal in Earl’s Court. He arrived at the Workshop in good time for the eight o’clock start but unfortunately he was overcome by jet lag and fell into a deep slumber from which he could not be revived until after the end of the meeting. Kinsella is then said to have refreshed himself with a pint of mint tea and hit the vegetarian cafés of Hammersmith, raving through the night on a frenzy of lentils and beansprouts before gathering up his rucksack and boarding his flight home. A copy of his unread poem was found under the Dining Room table at the Manor and pasted into the archive. A pity, it had been a strong piece, too. If you have been, thank you for reading.